I sit down before my suitcase and wonder how I'll ever manage to stuff enough of my wardrobe into it. I'm a heavy packer, and I'm only taking one bag. This could be a problem. I fold the first sweater, and as I lay it inside I'm suddenly transported back to the day I packed for our Senior Trip. I was a bundle of nerves that day. Kyle was still completely oblivious to my existence and I was determined that the next week of time together would change that. I wish I could go back and tell myself that it would work out. I spent altogether way too much time worrying and not nearly enough savoring those fleeting moments of tender uncertainty and hope.
A faded grey t-shirt comes next. I feel its softness, hold it to my cheek, and remember that it is what I was wearing when we shared our first kiss. God, I was so scared... I was leaving his house to go to work. He walked me out to my car and as I turned to go, he caught my hand, pulled me close and whispered that he loved me. He said it slowly, earnestly, and to this day it is my favorite moment of my entire life. It wasn't the first time he'd said it. It was the second, but it was the first time I was convinced it wasn't a dream. It was the time I believed it. We'd both had time to think since that first declaration, and both still trusted that it was true. We broke apart, but he kept both my hands in his.
"Would it be okay?" I love that he asked first.
I just nodded my head. Honestly it was all I was capable of. And then he kissed me. And it was soft and sweet and sincere...but most of all it was perfect.
Into the suitcase the shirt goes, and with it a hundred other bits of my life, all trapped between the threads.
I'm digging through my closet, trying to decide if I have a dress that's suitable for winter weather when I find another moment tucked away: A night just before we started dating. It was the night after prom, and our entire gang of friends spent the night at Kylie's house because we'd been out so late. Everyone else was upstairs sleeping, but Kyle and I were still in the living room, me stretched out on one sofa and him on another, staring at the ceiling and talking about anything and everything. We traded secrets and dreams and fears, and when Kylie's mom came downstairs at six the next morning, we pretended to be asleep, unintentionally drifting off into what was the most peaceful rest I've ever known.
I smile as I tuck this memory away again, and venture downstairs to pick a book for the plane. Here I find the volumes that kept me company while Kyle was away, the places I escaped to during our separations. Here are the books I gave him for his birthday two months late when he came home this summer. Here is the one he purchased for me the day we went shopping and said I didn't need it. I couldn't justify spending $25 on a book just because it was new, but he wouldn't let me go without it. He said I should let him do things for me while he was here...soon he'd be away again. I stopped protesting after that, just like he knew I would.
I pull my robe around myself a bit tighter and select a book for the flight, and as I do so I realize that even this fuzzy pink monstrosity holds a bit of our past. It was while he was home this summer. We were at my house, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of 2AM when we both realized we were hungry. A quick raid of the kitched turned up nothing of interest, and we were stumped. I thought for a moment.
"What about pancakes?" I proposed.
"Pancakes are good," he said. So I pulled down the flour and sugar and milk and such and went to work. I spilled flour on my fluffy pink robe, but those were probably the best pancakes I've ever made. Later that night, or that morning, rather, just as we were drifting off to sleep he laughed a little and told me he loved me.
"Why?" I asked, smiling.
"Because. You just made me pancakes at two o'clock in the morning." And then we both laughed.
I play those precious moments over and over in my mind, and I smile to myself, knowing that these memories are only the prequel to the story we'll share. I can't wait until next Monday. I can't wait to see what the next chapters will bring. You know, if I ever manage to get packed. :)